Beware the Bulldogs

HAVING won two of their past three hit-outs at Etihad Stadium, the Western Bulldogs loom as a danger across the final two months of the AFL's home-and-away season.

The Bulldogs play five of their last six matches of the 2014 season at Etihad Stadium.

Considering their form at the ground, the Dogs will fancy their chances against Essendon in round 18; St Kilda, 20th; North Melbourne, 21st; and GWS Giants in the 23rd and final hit-out.

In the past three weeks the Bulldogs have beaten Collingwood and Melbourne at Etihad by eight and 15 points.

Sunday's triumph against Melbourne was a huge lift to the confidence of the team and Dogs fans across the country.

There was a lot to like about the way the Bulldogs attacked the contest.

It was not just the "old campaigners" such as Matthew Boyd and Robert Murphy who led the way, but young guns such as Jake Stringer (pictured), Mitch Wallis, Luke Dahlhaus, Jackson Macrae and Marcus Bontempelli who played key roles in the victory.

There was a lot to like about the way the Bulldogs attacked the contest

As Melbourne fought back and took the lead by three quarter-time, many Dogs fans could have been forgiven for thinking "ho hum, here we go again".

After narrow defeats to the likes of Melbourne, Brisbane Lions and Essendon earlier this year the Dogs were determined not to let it happen again.

The Dogs' top pick and fifth overall in the 2012 national draft, Jake Stringer from Bendigo marked game 19 for the club by kicking a career-high four goals.

Since he was drafted from the Bendigo Bank Pioneers, Stringer has mainly played in attack, but also had stints in midfield and defence in the big league.

Those who watched him play for the Pioneers or for Eaglehawk in the Bendigo Football League saw his fierce desire to compete and superb skill many times.

Stringer also fought back from missing a season of football because of a broken leg.

Football is now his go, but Stringer also showed a lot of ability on the basketball court and represented Victoria Country at junior level.

The play of Stringer and Bulldogs' team-mate Stewart Crameri are closely followed by many footy fans from their original home town of Maryborough.

Playing just the eighth match of his AFL career, Marcus Bontempelli kicked one of the goals of the year.

The 19-year-old's play to disposses an opponent, weave his way out of trouble and coolly slot the matchwinning goal from in the pocket was a sign of great things to come.

A year ago, Bontempelli was starring for Northern Knights in the AFL Victoria TAC Cup under-18s competition.

He's in the race for the Rising Star award following a great effort in the win against Collingwood.

It's the Bulldogs against the Cats in this Sunday's clash on Geelong's turf at Simonds Stadium.


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